A Challenging Evening…

I’m having one of those nights. It’s not easy to describe exactly what’s in my heart and mind. I do try to keep this G or PG, but I might go PG-13 tonight.

There is a new ministry coming into town. I love it, and I hate it. No, hate is too strong. It’s more that I struggle with accepting that even in our little rural haven we need it. That the beauty of our surroundings hides a darkness of heart and conscience. And I don’t like the me I see in the mirror looking out behind my eyes as I think even more deeply about the issues.

As a community, we are working to drop denominational titles and put aside stereotypes and prejudices to develop a safety net for sex industry workers who want to escape. And I’m okay with that. Women who go into the sex industry don’t usually make it a life goal to use their bodies instead of their brains. Some are even unwilling participants, running from lives so painful that I questioned my decision to bring my special angels to the meeting.

However, I struggled with the idea of reaching out to the entrapped men…the men wrestling with pornography, the men making their livings off the sweat of these women by running the strip joints and gentlemen’s clubs. The feminazi rebel screams that men are the enemy, especially these cadaverous cads making money from this or sending money into the system that lets men make money from this.

And yet, because we have a culture that covers over the faults, we condone what these men choose by our silence and refusal to admit we have a problem.

And it’s not true covering…true covering involves loving the person beneath the grimy actions and unkind words and contradicting choices.

It’s the false covering that is more hiding from shame and guilt and sticking our heads in the sand to pretend nothing is wrong and we’re all fine. (By the way, have I told you what FINE really means? Fouled Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional. But I digress… maybe it will get explored in the future.)

Anyone who chooses to go public generally isn’t given support. Men are demonized for having the issues, and women are demeaned for “not being enough” to “keep their man out of trouble.”

At this point, like me, you’d probably be thinking, “Thank God that’s not me!” But in my heart of hearts, I have to acknowledge I do it in subtle, hidden ways; without pointing fingers, I suspect if you look closely in your heart, you do it differently but hide it just the same.

There were weeks I didn’t want to go to my husband’s church after I found out there were recovering abusive men there and men dealing with sexual addiction. All the issues from my first marriage would come tumbling back, and I didn’t want to deal with it or with people who had made similar choices then had taken a different path. The pain and fear were so severe I could hear silent screams billowing up from my belly. I locked down everything I was feeling, pretended I was fine, and eventually brushed everything under my mental carpet. (God did rope that wild hare-brained thought process into submission in His time.)

In reality, these men are struggling to survive in every church and major establishment across the country. They cannot hide, and we cannot hide from them. If I don’t learn to see their humanity, I will never be fully comfortable or feel completely safe anywhere I go.

I still go to that popular lingerie shop for women to have my daughters get properly measured periodically. I never thought about the message I was sending them: Be physically beautiful. Use your bodies to snag men. Without the right smell and clothes you’ll be alone. Worse, it never crossed my mind that the models displaying the literal goods were displaying the figurative goods, singing a siren song that would ensnare men with issues (and, maybe in our inclusive culture, women as well). (Yeah, that’s probably my Master’s next battlefield.)

I never think in advance about the gossip and backbiting, the stories that get passed to and fro about people who are different and exotic in our community or worse the ones who are struggling, drowning in a sea of aloneness and loneliness. I tend to stand there and say nothing. I don’t pass it on, but somehow, I never manage to find a witty, quick retort that stops everyone in their tracks. Especially hard are the juicy tales disguised as prayer requests. (Yeah, that’s probably my Master’s next, next battlefield.)

I still belt out the lyrics to the songs of my childhood and adolescence at the top of my lungs, the ones that I would probably cringe to admit I knew if Jesus were here in the flesh (yeah, add it to the list):

  • Gimme, gimme wild west. Gimme, gimme safe sex. Gimme love, gimme love.
  • I don’t know what I’m saying as my trembling fingers touch forbidden places…I don’t know and I don’t care what made you tell him you don’t love him anymore, and as I taste your tender kisses, I can tell you’ve never been this far before.
  • Ain’t no doubt about it we were doubly blessed. ‘Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed

So as much as the feminazi rebel in me wants to change the world, I need to examine my heart and submit to the Potter for His changes. I cannot change unless I bend my knee and my heart. If I want to set the world on fire, I have to fire within me a love for God that allows me to truly love people when they’re at their worst, that burns away pride, arrogance, and prejudice.

The alternative is too alarming. Edmund Burke said it best: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

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